If you played Madden in the early-2000s, you may remember that there was a pretty simple way to make a completely unstoppable offense. During any season, you could find a couple of decent receivers, add them to your starters, and you could run out of a 4-wide receiver set, and the computer couldn’t stop it. This worked because the other team’s dimeback could never cover a decent receiver, and once you got a little momentum going, there was no stemming the tide. How does this relate to current-day Notre Dame’s offense, you ask?
Wild Proposal number 1:
This offense has a greater number of very dangerous, working weapons than any college offense that I can remember ever having seen. Do you want your fourth- or fifth-best cover man assigned to Amir Carlisle? Greg Bryant? Ben Koyack? C. J. Prosise? You don’t. This Notre Dame offense has the ability to be extremely varied, and to create impossible matchup problems for opposing coordinators. If Notre Dame’s offensive line can have success against the pass rush, if Golson can keep finding ways to extend plays, and/or if Golson can get really good at making fast reads, the speed in Notre Dame’s aerial attack is far too great for any team to be able to stop it.
And as long as there’s one of three very talented running backs on the field, selling out against the run is unadvisable. I’m not sure that this makes much of a difference, but if (in Bizarro World) someone figured out how to stop the passing attack, they’d probably have to take all, or nearly all, of the linebackers off of the field. This would almost-definitely be bad news, if Folston or Bryant gets a full head of steam, and the safeties are being effectively blocked.
If you watched any of Stanford’s offense in the last couple of years that Jim Harbaugh was there, there were offensive tackles all over the field. There were extra tackles on the line of scrimmage, tackles in the backfield, and I think that I even saw a tackle or two assisting the refs, a time or two. Stanford’s running game worked very well. It was a very difficult offense to stop, even though it was clear that they would likely be running the ball. Notre Dame could do something similar.
Wild Proposal number 2: Notre Dame’s three-headed monster at running back seems that it might be as good as advertised. When you add the running quarterback to the mix (not to mention small doses of Amir Carlisle from the slot [he was a tailback last season, after all]), Notre Dame’s rushing attack can be especially dangerous. In February, Tyler Luatua, a tight end from California, signed onto the team. Over the summer, he grew into a nearly-270 pound young man. The depth on Notre Dame’s offensive line is impressive. It’s not hard for me to imagine an offense that features Ben Koyack, a very athletic and long Mike McGlinchey, and Tyler Luatua all on the field at the same time.
One of the problems with this offense is that, if you sell out against the run, McGlinchey and Luatua both have experience with catching the football (McGlinchey played some tight end in high school). If some combination of Durham Smythe, Davaris Daniels, Corey Robinson, and the running back make up the other eligible receivers, any defense that sells out against the run can be made to pay through a long play-action pass. How do you stop an offense with what equates to four large tight ends who can catch the ball, and runners who are very good at running the ball?
A boy can dream.
Note: I realize that Davaris Daniels is suspended, right now, but I’m an optimist.
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